SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Tuesday that it will conduct a nuclear test to bolster its self-defense capability amid what it calls increasing U.S. hostility toward the communist regime.

“The DPRK will in the future conduct a nuclear test under the condition where safety is firmly guaranteed,” the North’s Foreign Ministry said in the official English translation of its statement, using the acronym for country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The statement gave no precise date of when a test might occur.

Reacting swiftly to the announcement, Foreign Minister Taro Aso called North Korea’s self-described nuclear test plan a threat to peace, and said a nuclear test would have graver implications than North Korean missile tests in July. Aso called the North’s purported plan “totally unforgivable,” and said Japan would react “sternly” if the North conducted a nuclear test, according to Kyodo News agency.

China, North Korea’s neighbor, ally and chief benefactor, had no immediate comment. The North Korean announcement appeared to have caught Chinese officialdom off-guard, coming in the midst of a weeklong National Day holiday.

More here.   The Chinese have been a little slow at the trigger lately, but the mental picture of Chinese officials lounging around the pool at the Ritz Carlton-Kuala Lumpur — sipping umbrella drinks and talking about Grey’s Anatomy — when the news comes in that Kim Jong-Il is going to blow something up, is a somewhat unfamiliar one.  That’s something we’d expect from Congress, but we’d always thought that China had its act together.  Imagine how comforted I am to know that many of the world’s most powerful nations are run by goofs.